Monday, June 17, 2019

Construction industry warns Trudeau not to extend surtax on foreign steel



As reported on CBC News, Canada’s construction industry is warning the federal government not to overrule its trade tribunal and extend a surtax on five types of foreign steel, as a fierce lobbying campaign continues by domestic steelmakers — one of whom spoke openly Thursday about how accessible Trudeau’s cabinet has been.

Alan Kestenbaum met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his Parliament Hill office for a photo call. As cameras rolled, the executive chairman of Stelco Inc. thanked the Liberal government for being “supportive in every way,” saying ministers can be reached “by cellphone, by text, and have been extremely responsive and understanding.”

So far, his industry’s sustained lobbying has landed a $2 billion assistance package for steelmakers, announced last summer after the Trump administration imposed steel and aluminum tariffs for “national security” reasons.

The Canadian government is “working almost daily in meetings with American officials to try and get those tariffs lifted,” Trudeau told the cameras Thursday.

But there’s no sign the U.S. is ready to budge. And in the meantime, steelmakers want more.

“The past support we’ve had from the government … the quick, decisive actions, have been very, very helpful, but things have changed,” Kestenbaum said.

What did he mean?

On April 3, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal found insufficient evidence to justify continuing emergency safeguards on five of the seven categories of foreign steel it investigated, including some steel that could compete with Stelco’s products.

The panel’s report means that on April 28, this extra protection — a 25 per cent provisional surtax when certain non-U.S. imports rise above historic levels — is set to end, unless Trudeau’s government decides to intervene.

That’s exactly what Canada’s steel producers, and the United Steelworkers union, asked the federal government to do last week.

Keep reading on CBC News


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